The islands are about a 3 hour drive from Panama City. They are beautiful and the sand is so soft. The islands are very basic so do not expect to find options for chairs, shade, food, drink or even the bathroom. We did not like our driver. He did not communicate with us at all. We had no idea what time he was going to pick us up (5 am). We asked the concierge in the hotel to tell us the usual time and we hoped the driver would show up. We were freezing in the car and he would not turn down the AC. Our 5 year old had to go to the bathroom and his response was to shrug look around and say "where?" It was a just ok outing.
Thank you for leave a review..
San Blas Islands are a group of island and mountain belongs to Guna Indigenous that there is no electricty and water. The services there is so basic as you have mentionated.
All our car has Wifi, you was able us contact us in our 24/7 number and we could have provided better communication. Many drivers are not bilingual but this reason we have an alternative channel of communications.
We have to give you a bunch of apollogies for the misunderstanding.
This letter is in regard of the “San Blas Island-Hopping Day Trip from Panama City” took on Oct 19th, 2019 (Booking Reference: BR-745613046):
a. Pick up time: We were waiting around 40 min to departure because was a confusion with another couple’s pick-up place. Also, another couple were arguing because do not want to seat in the 3rd line of the SUV
b. Breakfast: it was a mess, we arrived at the store and the guide said “ok you just can take one sandwich and one coffee; but there were not enough sandwiches for all, for that reason a confusion was presented with the team; we had to wait for sandwiches to be done, them the line to pay, conclusion we lost 40 min more.
c. When we arrived at the port and we onboarded the litter boat, the tour guide said that one person must go out of the boat because of it was overload, no body one to go out and we were wasting time. Me and my husband decided to go out of the boat.
The tour Guide said that the waiting time will be just 10 min…. the time passed and 10 min was approx. 50 min; for the delay he said that will upgrade lunch and It was done.
2. The nightmare:
Around 3pm we departure to go back to Panama port, in the middle of the Ocean a heavy raining storm came, water coming in to de boat, we had not view and the worst thing the guys that were responsible of the trip did not have at least one Compass, it was really a nightmare!
We were approx. 30 min lost in un-know place.
I can provide you the videos;that can show how anxious and bad we felt but it can show the sad situation. People crying and praying ….. I thought we won’t make it!
We think that this is a negligence that your company offer a tour using an unsecure boat how you offered to us, putting on risk a group of tourists because you did not take the appropriate action for tour like this.
Really the worst tour I ever take! Seriously you shall take action to improve your tours and prevent a serious situation.
This trip does not worth what we paid for… not even a bathroom to change wet clothes at the port and I paid to go in some called “bathroom” and I could not go in because it was unsaid of dirty.
First of all, thank you Marjorie for leave your review, we tried to give you a wonderful experience with us but sometimes some events are out of our hand.
As your husband said: "It's difficult to comply the satisfaction to all customer in Tourism".
In our way to San Blas Islands, we had a good conversation about our travels, life and guna culture as well as the return to the City
Let me explain all your points..
a. Pick up: we didn't have confussion. The confussion was from the customer that had waited in the incorrect place and the couple that didn't want to come in the shared car. We went on time to the pick up places but the customers caused the delays.
b. Breakfast: We depend of our provider for give you a light breakfast but, as you know, It hadn't enough breakfast for all, additional, one breakfast had the wrong label.
There was a long line for pay. We lost time but inside of the agenda time.
c. Our max capacity in the boat is 18 people. We were exactly 18 but the authorities considered to take out 2 people. I tried to explain to all what was happened. You and your husband were considered and decided to wait to the next boat. I had asked the next departure time and the authorities told me in 10 min. We wait exactly 30 min from 9:30 to 10:00 am
I had to looking for a special boat for you, wihtout extra charge, and I gave you two lobster dishes in the lunch as a gift for your sacrifice.
2. In our 7 years with this tour, we have never had a similar situation. We have protocols of that kind of situation and one of this is stop the boat and wait to rain pass.
After that day, we had 3 days with similar situation and we could comply the protocols, now with 2 compass in the boat, we can return to the port safely as you in that day.
We gave workshops to all staff to manipulate correctly similar situation with effective communications.
Finally, I have to give you thousands of thanks and if you return to Panama with your husband, we give you a special price and we hope to comply all you expectation
We are Joe Brown Adventures, Tu amigo en San Blas
My first time in Panama and was looking forward to enjoy the islands of San Blas . Elvis was our driver and he was great picking us up at the hotel and dropping us off. The tour starts early morning of 5 AM and picks up other tourists with a max of 6 inside the SUV. It takes over 2 hours to get to the dock with a break in between to a supermarket to buy food or other necessities. The road to San Blas is narrow , zigzagging thru the lush mountains with scattered potholes and Elvis will try to avoid it. So motion sickness is common . There’s a checkpoint as u approach San Blas to check passports. Once in the dock , they will let you sign in their logbook and head to the boats. Expect to be a little bit wet from the waves so wear something appropriate, don’t blame em for getting drenched . The islands are spectacular , enjoy every moment of it. I had a good time at the natural pool snorkeling with scattered starfish everywhere .The people are friendly and accommodating even if there’s a language barrier. Elvis is awesome !
Day tour in San Blas, was contacted the day before for time of pick up in PTY. driver doesn't really speak English but will just get you to the port where an English speaking 'guide' will be waiting. No issue with the driving, or boat ride, people a really exaggerating in their reviews.
The lunch wasn't to be remembered but it's enough to fill you up.
Loved the islands, very pretty. Worth it!
The islands are beautiful and the tour guides are very nice. This is just not worth $150. Lunch was not the greatest and serves cold.
Also, if you have any kind of motion sickness this is not the tour for you. The car ride to the dock is two hours, halh of which are winding roads through the mountains.
All proceeds, however, do go to the indigenous community that organize this tour.
The San Blas islands are very beautiful, but we thought this would be more of a snorkeling trip, and we actually only snorkeled for about 25 minutes. We spent 2 hours on the first island. There you could swim in the ocean or relax on the beach. Next we went to the natural pool area to snorkel for about 25 minutes. We saw one starfish and a few small white fish. We were supposed to have lunch at the third island, but they were more crowded than expected so our guide arranged for us to eat at another island. We stayed there for about 1 hour. Our guide was wonderful, and cared very much for our needs. Our driver picked us up from our resort at 5:00 am and we returned at 6:00 pm. It was a long day. Overall, we were glad we saw the beauty of the San Blas Islands. Please note: cost for this trip does not include admission of $20 per person (cash only). Also our resort was 10 minutes outside of Panama City, so they charged us $10 per person additional for pick up. Had we known this. We would have paid $6 for Uber to take us to a hotel in Panama City.
There is not much more beautiful than a perfect sunny day on white sand next to very blue warm ocean water and palm trees all around to offer the perfect amount of shade and rustling of palm leaves in the air. This tour offered that but it was a looooong day and you are better off going the route of doing an overnight or two one any of the available secluded islands (especially if you are the campy/outdoors type). The day: up at 430am to be in the lobby by 5am to be picked up closer to 6am, followed by a 2hr Drive (half of which is extremey bumpy over potholes... but on the way you are distracted by scenery and happy you are in A/C), followed by a 35min boat ride to your first island. There is not much “guiding” or “touring” (which is fine, just a little different than advertised) but you are told when to be where (which is important)... otherwise you get to do what you want for the time on the island, or in the natural pool, or on another island. See, my fiancé and I aren’t big on spending too much time in the sun or on a beach, we burn easily and get bored... we love a good beach day, but more of the resort type with cocktails... if we had known to pack rum and coke, we would have (thank god I grabbed hotel towels on the way out!)... by the time we got to the 3rd island, get just more of the same and we were ready to head back, but in the mean time soaked up the relaxing, people-watching aspect of the day and feeling the beauty of the surroundings while there. The way home was just as long and exhausting... but I give props to the driver we had... handled the roads and the traffic like a champ and got us back at a decent hour. I recommend the excursion, but be ready for what it really means is all.